Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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Join us at our 25th anniversary celebration this September in New Brunswick!
[NJPP / Register Now]
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida, which claimed the lives of 30 people across New Jersey. With the climate crisis worsening, our state stands to face more superstorms and extreme flooding with much more frequency. Making matters worse, state policymakers are dragging their feet on life-saving climate resiliency measures, namely updating the state’s flood zone rules. In a new op-ed in The Star-Ledger, NJPP’s Alex Ambrose and Jen Coffey of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions ask, “How many more historic storms will hit our state — and how many more people need to die — before state policymakers act?” [NJ.com / Alex Ambrose and Jen Coffey]
Some more climate news: New reporting by New Jersey Monitor highlights how New York and New Jersey are taking opposite paths to tackle traffic congestion and pollution. The issue? New York’s plan, which includes congestion pricing to deter motorists from driving into lower Manhattan, is the only one that will actually alleviate traffic and reduce gas emissions. In New Jersey, the Murphy administration is not only opposing the congestion pricing plan but pushing forward a highway widening project that will bring more air pollution to Jersey City and the surrounding area. “At its best, this is counterproductive, and at its worst, it actively harms people who live in those already overburdened communities by those roads,” said NJPP’s Alex Ambrose. [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
Tens of Millions
In a big win for Atlantic County residents, a state Superior Court judge struck down an ill-advised state law that gave Atlantic City casinos tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks they didn’t need or deserve. The law was fast-tracked through the Legislature late last year after the gaming industry claimed casinos would close without the hefty tax breaks. Those claims were not backed by the casino’s own financial records, however, which showed a banner year for the industry. And, given how casino revenues help fund the city and county governments, residents of the county would have faced steep tax increases — or cuts in government services — if the tax breaks went into effect. [The Press of Atlantic City / Alison Burdo and Michelle Brunetti]
With the new school year right around the corner, New Jersey’s schools are struggling to fill teaching and support staff positions. Staffing shortages were on the rise prior to the pandemic — mainly as a result of cuts to pay and benefits under the Christie administration — but the pool of teacher candidates has only gotten worse over the last few years given the pandemic and recent politicization of the profession. “We see less and less people right now in our transportation areas [or] our cafeteria lines or in any of the other positions that really service our students and our schools,” said Sean Spiller, President of the New Jersey Education Association. “We are at a crisis point.” [WHYY / Kenneth Burns]
On Wednesday, harm reduction advocates and local policymakers unveiled a digital memorial in Newark to commemorate Overdose Awareness Day and honor the lives lost to the overdose crisis. For the first time in recorded history, more than 100,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States last year, including more than 3,000 people in New Jersey. The memorial, which includes pictures of those lost and calls for a public health approach to drug use, will be displayed at the Newark Public Library through September 9 and then travel across the country. [NJ Spotlight News / Raven Santana]
Earlier this week, we announced the agenda for our annual policy conference, Progress 2022: Justice for All. Click the link for more info and to register — we hope to see you on September 23 at The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick! [NJPP / Progress 2022]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Stella, a senior dog thriving after a recent stroke. Stella hails from the East Bay in California but has a fightin’ Jersey spirit. Stella enjoys the simple things in life, like watching trees, snacking on treats, and sleeping under the stars. While Stella supports lots of affordable housing development for humans, she’s pretty darn NIMBY when it comes to squirrels. Woof!
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